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Ukip's Anti-EU Diatribe Must Be Fought

07/05/2013 11:45 BST | Updated 06/07/2013 10:12 BST
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The success of Ukip in Thursday's council elections is a damning indictment upon the Labour Party, and on anyone in politics who hopes to steer the United Kingdom, and the wider world away from bigotry, prejudice, and generally moronic decision-making. The British political establishment has universally failed to inform the public of the wide benefits of the European Union, and of immigration.

On Thursday the 2nd, local council elections took place in 34 authorities across England and Wales, and whilst there were predictable Conservative and Liberal Democrat losses and as expected Labour gains, there were also enormous gains, especially in vote share, for the United Kingdom Independence Party. Entire cities, such as Boston in Lincolnshire, were swallowed up by the new purple force, which clocked up 23 per cent of the popular vote across the country, more than the Liberal Democrats.

No third party has clocked up such a portion of the vote since the Liberal Democrats in the 1990s, when the Conservative Party were last at their most unpopular. To find another time when the third party was so popular, one would have to go back the times when Labour was considered a third party in Westminster. In addition to this, and due to the concepts of basic arithmetic, the big three parties dropped in support, with Labour achieving less than 30% of the vote at a time when they should be ahead.

Vox-pops with UKIP voters reveal that the primary motivation is a bizarre, prejudiced fear of immigrants and outsiders, and a total ignorance of the benefits of the institutions such as the EU, something very familiar to people who have spent time in certain areas of the country.

The fact that voters are willing to support UKIP, a party which endorses repealing the Human Rights Act, contains seemingly proud homophobes, and draws its support from stoking up fears about the European Union and immigrants, is a backlash that has been long coming. The British Left, but also the entire political establishment, has absolutely failed in its internationalism, and totally shirked its responsibility of educating voters about immigration and the European Union.

Labour has made absolutely no effort to put forward a pro-European message. In its years in power Tony Blair's main public policy towards Europe was in displaying how he was making sure the EU wasn't getting its grubby Brussels hands on the rebate we probably don't deserve anymore. Gordon Brown also kept quiet about the issue.

Internal policy discussions were concerned with striking a balance between what was obviously the correct policy, and placating some imaginary 'white, working-class voter', apparently too stupid to be told he's wrong in a convincing manner. This construction has meant that the reality, voters who can change their minds, has given way to the idea of a voter so dense that policy bends around them - and so Labour have joined the moronic brigade of being tough on immigration.

The Liberal Democrats, for their sins, have pursued a pro-European message for years. However their continued unwillingness to actually pursue any of their policies, or to make an effort to educate the public about their credibility, has only added to the utter vacuity of their manifesto, or indeed of their continued existence. Even then, a combination of shoddy organisation, that saw them damaged at the 2010 election, and reservation in doing anything other than criticising has seen their impact upon the debate of Europe and immigration being totally negligible.

The Conservative Party has either gleefully ridden on the coat-tails of common xenophobia, and subsequently pursued feckless anti-European policy, or split internally over the issue. The Far Left has completely abandoned discussing anything as real or meaningful as the European Union, preferring to live in 1917.

The only parties who have put forward a message of any substance (that substance happens to absolute horse-shit) about the European Union are Ukip, and the British National Party. Fortunately the BNP have suffered from internal combustion, and lost all three of their councillors, and appear to have caved in on themselves - they'll be happy in there. However, the decline of one party which relies on racist voters, only means those voters transfer to another.

As a result Ukip have managed to fill in a policy gap no party has been bold enough to discuss properly. Normally this alone would not be enough to propel them to power, but by jumping onto enough small-minded, anti-intellectual, provincial concerns, such as the closing down of pubs, the presence of Muslims, same-sex marriage, and the concept of paying taxes, they have managed to build enough of a groundswell. In a trick learned from the great totalitarians of history UKIP have taken to repeating the same simple message enough times until it convinces people.

Ukip's message of irrational fear and nonsense about the European Union seriously imperils Britain's position within the supranational body. If a referendum were called on the European Union, it is very possibly that the movement calling for a Brexit would win. This is, once again, because for about 20 years no one has dared stick up for it.

For the Labour and Conservative parties it has been far too easy just to go along with moronic arguments against 'the man in Brussels', no one has had the political courage or political sense to stand-up for the benefits of the common market, EU consumer and workplace legislation and directives, no one has even tried explaining to farmers the millions of pounds worth of benefits they receive from the Common Agricultural policy.

The same is true for immigration; no one has dared to speak up for the benefits that migrants bring to our country. But once again, populist 'concerns' have dominated politicians agenda, rather than the inherent responsibility they have as leaders to inform the public of what is actually going on.

Whilst as citizens people theoretically have the liberty of living in ignorance about the benefits of policies that link us up to the wider world, decision-makers do not, and democracy insists on giving decision-making to the public. The Labour Party, as the only real party of opposition, needs to realise their responsibility, and re-affirm their internationalism by informing the public properly about, and politically supporting, the European Union.